Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Pocket and the Pendant


When you were a kid, did you ever wonder what would happen if time were to just stop? Well, one day, Max and Casey found out. And the answer wasn’t good at all…

Okay, time for the plot rundown and then to my thoughts on the matter. Max is a very extraordinary boy, more extraordinary than he even knows. Max thinks that he’s years old, but as the story goes on, we find out that he’s much older than that. But Max doesn’t remember, and the only people who do are grown ups…so grown up in fact, that one is in a retirement community, one is criminal with a family, and one faded away long ago, leaving a copied image behind. But Max doesn’t remember these people, though he wishes he did, because if he did, then he might be able to understand what’s going on when time completely stops.

Casey was a normal little girl growing up in the same small community as Max. She lived a normal life with divorced parents, never seeing her father, but living with her mother, until the day that her mother stood still. And not just her mother, her neighbors and her friends were also “stuck” in time. After some manipulation, Casey began to realize that she could unstuck things stuck in time, but it was all too terrifying. Plus, she stumbles across another power that only she seems to possess. And when she traps herself with this power, only Max can hear her pleas for help.

The two characters are then launched on a world wide search for others like them, others unstuck from “the Pocket” as Casey deems the time-stopped world. But their search takes them for miles and into civilizations that didn’t exist before “the Pocket” began; civilizations formed by kids like them, unstuck from the world. That’s when they meet Ian, who has some tools and some theories that help the three of them realize that they are not alone. And when the begin to search deeper, they find out that those “aliens” Ian noticed are after something, something important, something Max became involved in so very long ago.

But in order to unlock his memory, Max must talk to an ancient being known only as Mister E, or Enki as some call him. Many times Enki has freed Max’s memory so that he might remember what’s going on, but each time Max wishes that he hadn’t remembered, and each time Enki erases the memories. This time, Max wants to try to fix things without having his memory freed, which gives the enemies a leg-up, but also means that Max might be able to change everything once and for good this time. Too bad that means he’ll have to deal with his family without remembering why he dislikes them in the first place.

This novel by Mark Jeffrey is an interesting read. From start to finish, the simplicity of the diction and the juvenile word use gives us the feeling that we are going along with Max and Casey, traveling with them as they experience “The Pocket”. And to be honest, I felt myself cheering for them right away. I felt myself sympathizing with their plight, laughing when they succeeded and crying when they faced adversity. And unlike other time-related books I’ve read, this book did not disappoint in some aspects that most others do.

In most of the novels related to time that I’ve read, the characters suddenly became very concerned about time issues (i.e. they would not be able to get to a certain point with enough time to stop the bad guy, or something very important somewhere else happens and they miss their opportunity to do it, etc.), but this novel didn’t present these issues. When you have all the time in the world to accomplish the most important tasks, in my opinion, you probably wouldn’t rush yourself. And Max, Ian, and Casey illustrated that when, at one point in the novel, they take 5 days planning and practicing everything they would need to do to rescue Sasha who had slipped out of the SuperPocket.

And then there’s the issue of action. You see, this is definitely a family story, the kind of tale that you would read with your kids before they fall asleep, the kind of story that you share with your grandkids when they come to visit your house. And most adults tend to steer away from these kinds of stories because they think that it wouldn’t appeal to their more adult understanding of the world. However, I would like to state that you should not mistake innocence for ignorance. In my generation, we had Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles…kids certainly understand violence, but to a lesser form of painful understandings. Jeffrey responds to this by having action, but showing it in the same form that you would see in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, namely the good guys beat up the bad guys and then the bad guys stumble away. No killing, but threats of it; no blood, but spilled pride. I found it quite refreshing from some of the other novels that I have been reading recently.

As I said, this is the kind of story you would read to your children before they fall asleep. In truth, when I have children, I will read this novel to them as they fall asleep. I can guarantee that the diction is simple enough for children 7+ to understand and will tickle their creative. I felt as though it was easy to follow along, without complicated plot twists that would fly over the heads of any preadolescent trying to understand. And, I’m certain that any boy would imagine himself as Max or Ian, and any girl would imagine herself as Casey. If you read this to them, don’t be surprised if your children as you to play Enki.
Have fun with this great read. Happy reading.

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